Written by Dr Katryna Kalawsky
It’s currently my first week back at work after the festive period and although things are still very challenging for many of us (to put it mildly) because of Covid-19 and the latest lockdown, I thought I’d take some time out to write a short blog post about something that I hope many of our Doctoral Researchers will find helpful…the Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight 2021!
For those of you who joined Loughborough University post March 2020, you may not be aware that last year I organised the University’s first Doctoral Wellbeing Week. It was the Doctoral College’s largest event ever (over 40 sessions!) and was so much fun to pull together! I was certainly out of my comfort zone organising something so big but the input and support from so many colleagues from across the institution coupled with the encouraging feedback received from Doctoral Researchers and those on the front-line of their support made it all totally worth it. It’s definitely a huge highlight of my time in the Doctoral College so far and something I’ll always look back fondly on.
Understandably, given everything that occurred in the months after last year’s Wellbeing Week (we actually first went into lockdown the week after the event was run!) I didn’t think it would be feasible to organise another week this year; those who contributed previously are working their socks off juggling many competing demands and of course there’s the obvious issue of finances…BUT I am absolutely delighted to share that not even a global pandemic can stop us from doing our best to offer something…and that something isn’t just a Wellbeing Week, it’s going to be a Wellbeing FORTNIGHT!
DISCLAIMER: Wellbeing is important 24/7, 365 days a week. The Wellbeing Fortnight won’t address all challenges faced but hopefully it will increase awareness of various support services available and equip Doctoral Researchers with information and skills that they can apply throughout their doctorates and beyond.
Although I’ve only had a few weeks to get the ball rolling and plans are still in their infancy, I am so excited to tell you that the Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight is taking shape beautifully all thanks to numerous colleagues internal and external to Loughborough who have offered their time and expertise willingly and for free. Put simply, the Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight will be another huge collective effort and I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of those who have been in touch.
Something I have been mindful of is managing expectations, especially after last year. Whilst I would love to accommodate all the suggestions I have received since the first Wellbeing Week of what to include in the programme, the content this year is totally dependent on what colleagues are able to offer. That said, having seen what has been offered I don’t think anyone will be disappointed! It’s looking awesome with some content the same as/similar to last year and many new sessions.
Today I sent a brief event update to the Doctoral College Sub-Committee to keep them in the loop with the plans. This included how I went about seeking contributions (e.g. writing a press release, targeting staff and researchers with expertise/interest in wellbeing, putting out a call of interest in the Doctoral College Bulletin and Doctoral Alumni newsletter) and sharing the format of the sessions. For the latter point, although there’s no denying that being together in person is beneficial to wellbeing, it just isn’t safe at the moment. For that reason, all of the sessions during the Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight will be held online (something that may prove more inclusive to those unable to visit either campus) and I plan to ask facilitators if they would be happy for content to be recorded (as appropriate – some topics aren’t suitable to be recorded) so they can be made available afterwards.
Now, some of you reading this blog may be wondering when the programme will be made available. The short answer is…”I don’t know…but soon!”. I’m aiming to share early-mid February (NB: the fortnight takes place w/c 1st March 2021 to coincide with National University Mental Health Day on 5th March) and there’s still lots to do (wish me luck!). I’m currently liaising will all those who have expressed interest in contributing to work out the most convenient time and date for them to deliver something. I’ll then be working with Marketing and Advancement to create the digital assets (including the event timetable) that will feature on the event webpages and other promotional information. Once all that is complete, bookings will be created on the Developmental Portal and I’ll be scheduling lots of Tweets from @LboroDocCollege (#LboroDRWellbeing)!
So, stay tuned for more information soon and get excited! I think you might be able to tell that I am! Whoop!
If you would like to put yourself forward to contribute during the Doctoral Wellbeing Fortnight, please get in touch with me (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 20th January 2021.